Cozy Mystery Reviews

New Math is MurderNEW MATH IS MURDER, by Jo-Ann Lamon Reccoppa (Page Spring Publishing, 2014, $10.99)  takes us behind the scenes in a community where everyone knows everyone, and no one is supposed to have secrets… except, as would-be reporter Colleen Caruso finds out, they do.  She didn’t expect to trip over the body of  math teacher Jason Whitley during her morning jog, but her editor at the newspaper thinks  would be a dandy way to boost circulation if Colleen would write a column about the on-going investigation.  Colleen learns more about Mr. Whitley’s extra-curricular activities than she really wants to, defends her best friend from a charge of murder, and faces a killer with a truly twisted motive.  Who says nothing every happens in a small town in New Jersey.

Lois Winston’s reluctant sleuth, Anastasia Pollack is back in another wild romp. In DECOUPAGE CAN BE Decoupage Can Be DeadlyDEADLY (Lois Winston, 2013, $14.95) she and her fellow-editors at American Woman are being upstaged at a major consumer show by the upstart editor-in-chief of a new magazine in their parent company’s line-up, an ex-rapper named Philomena.  When Philomena turns up dead in the magazine’s headquarters, the CEO bribes Anastasia to investigate.  Meanwhile, Anastasia is dealing with a long-lost half-brother-in-law who wants to buy his way into her family, her much-married mother’s latest trip to the altar, her unreformed Communist mother-in-law’s tantrums, and her tenant who insists that he is not a CIA agent.

There’s plenty of action, as Anastasia faces down yet another crazed killer. Decoupage instructions add to the book’s usefulness.

Missing You in Atlantic CityMISSING YOU IN ATLANTIC CITY, by Jane Kelly (Plexus Publishing, 2014, $14.95)  shows how the past can influence the present, and affect the future.  Meg Daniels is in Atlantic City, taking some time off her Bahamas job as concierge for the Artistical Hotel and Casino, when she’s asked to do a little snooping on behalf of lounge singer Johnny Angelini. His mother disappeared fifty years before, during the turbulent Democratic Presidential Convention, and Johnny’s been waiting all that time for some answers. Did she just walk out, or was there something more sinister going on? Meg  learns about the darker side of the ’60’s political scene, when just being rich and male was enough to empower a young and arrogant rising star. There’s a nasty secret that someone doesn’t want to be unearthed, and Meg has to fight for her life to  solve the puzzle of Betty Boyle’s disappearance.  A fascinating look at Atlantic City, today and yesterday.

Rogow Dobson Doyle DQC

Review – SONS OF SPARTA by Jeffrey Siger

Sons of SpartaSons of Sparta by Jeffrey Siger / Poisoned Pen Press Mystery / (Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series)

Jeffrey Siger weaves together a sophisticated plot and subplots in Sons of Sparta that drive home the historical significance of unique areas in Greece—mountainous Peloponnese, desolate Mani, and metropolitan Athens.  The non-forgiving codes of honor and vendettas among the residents of Mani who haled from pirates and highwaymen and evolved into 21st Century crime families threaten to destroy the small community. When outsiders try to buy land in the area for a hotel and golf course, old allegiances begin to falter with greed. When Special Crimes Division’s Detective Yiannis Kouros is called to Mani by his uncle—an uncle infamous for his cruelty as boss of Man’s crime syndicate—family secrets and breaches of loyalty begin to emerge.

The book is rich with obscure facts about the region that create unknown settings and homes built in Mani to serve more as fortresses than homes. The intricate political climate is fascinating and, with the physical settings, builds a complex environment that Siger skillfully walks the reader through, causing very little confusion in such a complex location and byzantine plot.

While Kouros is absorbed in the building intensity among his relatives, his boss, Chief Inspector Kaldis, is embroiled in the chaos of government corruption. His investigation drives directly to Mani and the maze Kouros is caught in. With each step they take forward, something happens to send them two steps backwards.

Reigning in his family bent on revenge is a full-time job, while trying to figure out exactly what his uncle was doing sends Kouros in circles. The good working relationship between Kouros and Kaldis quickly becomes fractured as they struggle to determine who is lying and where the truth is.

A well-paced book with interesting characters and a killer setting.

Review provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in the November issue of The Book Breeze.

Review – The Grave series by Darynda Jones

Seventh Grave and No BodyFIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT / SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT / THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD / FOURTH GRAVE BENEATH MY FEET / FIFTH GRAVE PAST THE LIGHT / SIXTH GRAVE ON THE EDGE . SEVENTH GRAVE AND NO BODY

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

I was in the mood for a ghost story when I stumbled upon this series and I loved it so much I plowed through seven books in six days. No, I didn’t get a lot of sleep but I have no regrets:)

This is a very entertaining series.  Charlie Davidson is private detective with a neighbor/best friend/secretary named Cookie who does her best to keep Charlie on track and well caffinated as she juggles life with the living and the dead.  Life isn’t easy when you are the Grim Reeper.

Add to the mix the sizzling Son of Satan and a growing sense that something very dark and dangerous is coming, you’ve got a must read series with a marvelous collection of characters, non-stop humor and relentless action.

Book 8 comes out May 2015.  Can’t wait!

Reviewed by The Book Breeze in the November 2014 issue.

Review – I WANT IT THAT WAY by Ann Aguirre

I Want it That WayI WANT IT THAT WAY by Ann Aguirre Harlequin, August 2014 – 5 Stars

Blurb:  Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating’s the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. One night Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other. 

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Review: College junior, Nadia Conrad has her life organized and well-planned. Two more years and she’ll graduate from the university, making a difference as a special education teacher. She happily moves to an apartment off campus with her friends where she’ll share the master bedroom with her best pal since childhood, Lauren Barrett. Nadia isn’t a stereotypical student, however she and her friends do enjoy movies, alcohol and pizza right up until the grouch who lives downstairs comes up to tell them to cut out the partying at 8:42 pm.

Dan never planned on being a dad at twenty, but sometimes life happens when you least expect it and he’s fully engaged as a single parent to four-year-old son, Sam. Working full-time, attending night school when he can, the last thing he needs are a bunch of crazy college “kids” moving in upstairs, even if one is amazingly cute.

This book provides a different view of college life. Dorms, lots of wild parties, hijinks at sororities and fraternities aren’t part of this story or these students’ worlds. Nadia works at a nursery/day care, attends class and struggles through hands-on training in a special education classroom. She barely has time to breathe, much less fall in love with the grump downstairs, even if she adores his charming, loveable sidekick, Sam.

A realistic setting, well-developed characters, and several “Aah” moments make this the kind of book a reader loves and wants to add to those “keeper” shelves. Dan tugs at the heartstrings when he shares why he wants to be an architect with Nadia. This may be a bit of a “spoiler” but any guy who says he wants to build churches so he can “thank God for his son – Dan’s son, that is,” deserves an “Aah” or two. One can easily extend that to more than one son. When Nadia fails at writing her first project for the practicum teacher, but learns where she went wrong, we root for her to win the next time. If she does, so will her future students.

Yes, this is a love story, but don’t expect a simple “girl meets boy” theme. It’s not a fast-paced book. Every word adds layer and beauty to a well-told tale. While it can stand alone, I Want It That Way is part of a trilogy. Most readers will happily move onto what happens next in this world.

Review provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the November 2014 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review – THE EDISON EFFECT by Bernadette Pajer

Edison EffectThe Edison Effect by Bernadette Pajer            Poisoned Pen Press Cozy Mystery (Professor Bradshaw series)

Bernadette Pajer’s historical fiction is filled with known and obscure historical fiction that make reading her Professor Bradshaw series enjoyable. The famous Thomas Alva Edison makes an appearance early in the book and lends substantial tension to the story as it unfolds. I wonder how many people know that Edison “was a ruthless businessman, intent on furthering his patents and General Electric and beating rivals like Nikola Tesla and Westinghouse.” I have to admit that I did not know this about the man that we revere for bringing us the light bulb.

In this early stage of electricity – 1903 – an electrician is found dead in a Bon Marche Department Store window where he was working with the newfangled strings of Christmas lights invented by Edison. Couple his murder with an invention that has been lost in the Elliott Bay off Seattle, an invention that Edison is determined to have regardless of the shady circumstances, and Professor Bradshaw is back on the job as an amateur sleuth.

Bradshaw is determined to thwart Edison’s efforts to find the deadly lost device, which was created by an anarchist. Edison attempts to use Bradshaw for his own selfish reasons, but he is caught off guard by Bradshaw’s intelligent and illusive actions to obstruct his plans.

The device is at the bottom of the bay and all attempts to find it have been as futile as Bradshaw’s attempts to bring closure to the problems between himself and Missouri, the young woman he loves, a winning subplot. Bradshaw’s trusted partners in solving crime and uncovering mysteries, novice investigator, Henry Pratt, and police Detective O’Brien, are on the job and wondering why Bradshaw doesn’t face his personal problems with Missouri realistically.

A well-constructed mystery loaded with tension—professional and personal—multi-dimensional characters, and excellent pacing.

Review was provided by Mahala Church for her column Barefoot Reviews in the Nov 2014 issue of The Book Breeze.

New Releases

perf5.000x8.000.inddOFF THE GRID By Karyn Good

Spicy Romantic Suspense Released Nov 7 by The Wild Rose Press in print and ebook

Nothing fazes Dr. Sophie Monroe—until a pregnant teenager shows up at her clinic on Christmas Eve claiming the baby’s father is one of the city’s most influential businessmen. Sophie is in over her head and thankful when aid shows up in the form of an attorney who’s a little too confident and a lot too sexy.

perf5.000x8.000.inddTHE BEGINNING COMES QUIETLY By Susan JP Owens

Sizzling Paranormal Romance Released Sept 24 by The Wild Rose Press in ebook

Peyton Adams is plagued by visions of gruesome slayings. Cole Macleod learns a serial killer controls Peyton’s mind and body, and taunts the love of his life about her death. Will Peyton die before the he can catch the deranged maniac?

DragonWarrior_w9039_750DRAGON WARRIOR by Diana Green

Spicy Fantasy Romance M/F Releases November 7th, 2014 from The Wild Rose Press in E-book

This exciting novella follows the dragon clan’s next generation, with Huroth’s son, Harith, forced to make a difficult choice between love and duty. It’s a tale of star-crossed lovers, secret identities, and warring dragon clans. Look for this spellbinding romance at Amazon and other online retailers.

Triple ThreatTRIPLE THREAT By H.L. Wegley

Thriller with Romance Released Nov 14 by Harbourlight Books – A Pelican Book Group in both print and ebook

How can they awaken a dozing nation to a three-pronged danger threatening its very existence? Triple Threat, an adventure that spans the Pacific Northwest from the shores of the Olympic Peninsula to the mountains of Whistler, BC, a conspiracy you might read in tomorrow’s paper, but pray you never will.

CalculatedRisk_w11459_680CALCULATED RISK By Zoe M. McCarthy

Contemporary Inspirational Romance Released Nov 21 by White Rose Publishing – A Pelican Book Group in print and ebook.

“What happens when an analytical numbers man meets a mercurial marketing Rep? Romance is a calculated risk. Jilted by the latest of her father’s choices of “real men,” Cisney Baldwin rashly accepts an invitation to spend Thanksgiving weekend with a sympathetic colleague and his family. … She drives him crazy…”

For more new releases, author interviews and book reviews visit The Book Breeze

Interview with paranormal author Kathryn Knight

AuthorPhotocrop2[1]As a child, Kathryn Knight kept her parents on a constant quest to find enough reading material to last her through each week. An early fondness for books about horses later gave way to a lasting preference for both love stories and ghost stories; as a writer, the paranormal romance genre is a perfect fit.

Silver Lake, Kathryn’s first novel, released in August of 2012 from The Wild Rose Press and was a Finalist in the 2013 RomCon Reader’s Crown Awards. Her second novel, Gull Harbor, released in February of 2013 and remained on the Kindle Bestseller list for 19 consecutive weeks. She lives in New England with her husband, her sons, and a number of rescued animals.

Tell us about your interest in ghost stories. Have you had a paranormal experience personally? I’ve been an avid reader since I was very young, and my father would bring home a stack of library books for me once a week. When I was about ten years old, one book in the pile had the tagline “A ghost story…and a love story”. The book was the classic Young Adult novel Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp. This sweet historical paranormal romance made a huge impact on me; from then on, ghost stories mixed with romance have always been my favorite. I love the blend of a suspenseful, spooky ghost story combined with a tension-filled romance, and that’s what I set out to write.

I’ve never actually seen a ghost, although it’s not from lack of trying. But in my research, I’ve attended many events designed to connect with spirits. Twice I’ve had psychic mediums come up to me, without ever meeting me or even knowing my name, and tell me personal details about my life that were frighteningly accurate. These experiences solidified my belief in things we may not be able to explain or understand.

Your latest release is DIVINE FALL (July 2014). Tell us about it. DIVINE FALL is my first Young Adult Paranormal Romance. DivineFall250The main character, Jamie Brandt, has suffered a great deal of tragedy in her 16 years, and her only goal is to finish high school and leave her small hometown behind. In the meantime, she spends her time at the barn where she boardsher horse, and it’s there she runs into Dothan Reed, the mysterious new stable hand. He’s obviously hiding some dangerous secrets, and somehow Jamie is connected to his quest for revenge. Despite a terrible betrayal, their connection deepens, and Dothan will ultimately have to choose between vengeance and the girl he loves.

Reviews are good – any possibility we will see these characters again? Thank you! I’ve been thrilled with the reviews so far, as well as the requests for more about Jamie and Dothan. I’ve had readers ask for a prequel as well, so I have lots to think about in terms of continuing the story. While I’m working on something different right now, I’ve left the door open to possibly revisit all these great characters.

SilverLake_w6412_300You have two other books out – SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR. Tell us about them. SILVER LAKE was my debut novel. The basic premise is a reunion between a group of former friends who became estranged when their friend Brandy vanished during their senior year of high school. Five years after Brandy’s disappearance, the group agrees to reunite at a lake house from their past in a final attempt to solve the mystery. The main character, Rain Anderson, is determined to find closure for Brandy’s terminally ill mother, and she’s also anxious to try to reconcile with Jason Lansing, the man whose heart she broke back in high school. As the paranormal activity at the lake house escalates throughout the summer, it becomes clear that Brandy’s ghost has a message to share, and she’s desperate enough to put her friends in danger in order to expose the truth.

GULL HARBOR, my second novel, is set on Cape Cod. The main character, Claire Linden, arrives in Gull Harbor ready to take perf5.000x8.000.inddon an aggressive ghost. Now that she’s embraced her gift as a medium, she’s confident she’ll succeed in ridding her temporary summer home of the restless spirit that drove the owners of the house to hire her. However, she never expects to also encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then disappeared suddenly from her life five years ago without a hint of an explanation. As Claire begins to unravel the truth behind the haunting, Max is forced to share his secret to stay close enough to Claire to try to protect her from a danger that extends beyond the paranormal.

What social media do you participate in? I spend a lot of time on social media, as it’s a great way to connect with readers. I tend to use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest the most, and I post regularly on my blog, Kathryn Knight books. It can be time-consuming, but I honestly enjoy it, and my online presence helps generate interest in my books.

What’s next for you? As I mentioned, I’m working on a new story. I’ve tentatively titled it HAUNTED SOULS, and it’s a return to the steamy romance/ghost story combinations that I love so much. The hero is an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Tech who’s returned from two tours. He’s reunited with the girl he met four years ago, right before he left for training, and he’s shocked to find out he has a son. Of course, she had her reasons for keeping it a secret, but she’s found the courage to come clean. Meanwhile, their son begins speaking to what they believe is an imaginary friend…but when the “friend” starts to manipulate things in the physical world, the two former lovers have to put aside their animosity and their disbelief in order to solve the mystery surrounding this lost soul who has attached himself to their son.

Thank you so much for hosting my interview, I enjoyed answering the questions, and I hope readers enjoyed learning more about my books!

For more reviews, interviews and new releases visit The Book Breeze at http://www.thebookbreeze.com